Engage-Empower-Educate: A New Philosophy for Reducing Homelessness in Hawaii
Hawai'i has the highest per capita rate of homelessness of any state. We cannot afford to keep this ranking for another four years under the next governor. Homeless families are swept and shuttled across the island as part of short term “solutions” which do not place the long term welfare of these individuals and communities as a priority. We have the resources and manpower to truly effectuate change within our homeless communities, however, the current centralized approach to the problem has proven too daunting to create a substantial decrease in homeless numbers. We must stop employing a “one size fits all” mindset to a problem that affects each community and region uniquely.
Each homeless community has a unique geographical and socioeconomic situation including different housing costs, job markets, land availability, and transportation needs which require assessment and problem solving on an individual and regional level. By decentralizing our solutions and regionalizing our outreach efforts we will effectively tailor our solutions to varying needs. We must seek long-term change by working with our communities to engage, empower, and educate our homeless population by:
Engaging locally with regional teams including a combination of nonprofits, county and state officials, law enforcement, community organizations, and the homeless themselves will ensure the consideration of regional realities that are often overlooked.
- Empowering our homeless population by increasing their involvement in crafting solutions to best address their needs will help individuals determine their own path towards long-term self-sufficiency.
- Educating individuals who have transitioned to permanent housing through access to financial literacy and lifeskills programs increases the likelihood of maintaining financial stability and housing security.